There is far more to the creative process than learning how to use software and configure hardware. This blog addresses them.


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Journey author Robert Davis is the owner and creative director of Atlanta agency, Davis Advertising, Inc.


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Journey from Concept to Creation

There is far more to the creative process than learning how to use software and configure hardware. This blog addresses them.


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I was doing a demo recording for a friend a few years ago. The subject of choosing colors came up while I was working on the CD cover design. I remember her saying that she was impressed with my taste in choosing a good color scheme, claiming that it is a talent that few men possess. While there is "method to the madness" of choosing compatible colors for use in design work, I didn’t mention it to her at the time. I preferred to let her believe that I had creative talent that few men possess. While an exhaustive study of color theory could fill many books, I will cut to the chase and try to offer a concise and useful overview.

    Specifying color is largely a matter of understanding the color wheel – first developed by Sir Issac Newton (a man) in 1667 – which is centered on a logically organized sequence of pure color hues. It was refined by Albert H. Munsell (another man) in 1905.
    Munsell also introduced the concept of Hue, Chroma (Intensity or Saturation) and Value. The order of colors on the color wheel follow the order of colors seen when light is shown through a prism. The color wheel is made up of three primary, three secondary, and six tertiary colors – a total of 12 basic hues. The three primary colors are red, yellow and blue. Mixing them creates the secondary colors; green, orange and purple. The Tertiary Colors are formed by mixing a primary color with a secondary color. They are yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green and yellow-green.
    When specifying color, it is necessary to understand how color impacts people.
Here are a few examples:

*   Color choices should reflect your target market (women -- far more "color conscious" than men -- like red while men like blue) as well as the other strategic factors mentioned in my blogs, depending on the mood you want to convey and the emotional response you want to elicit.
*   Color choices should reflect the culture and religion where your work will be seen as color can have different meanings in different parts of the world (there is no proven “universal reaction” to colors). For example, white is associated with death in eastern cultures as black is in the west.
*   An object shown in a bright color looks larger than the same object shown in a dark color. Bright color "radiates," drawing the eye outward and expanding the object. If you are selling "size," you might consider using a brightly colored sample of the merchandise.
*   Hermann Rorschach, the Swiss psychologist found that cheerful people are more responsive to color while melancholy people respond better to shape. If you want to limit your market to those who have a more serious interest, you might want to keep the color subdued as color allows the viewer to be somewhat more passive... weeding out lukewarm prospects.
*   Color has been proven to be far more effective (up to 70%) in advertising than black and white... the added cost in printing color is marginal by comparison.

    Red is considered to be a “Hot” color. It can stimulate physical activity and sexual desire… passion, aggression and anger. It can make people feel hungry and increase respiration and blood pressure. You can use it for emphasis, although it was drilled into my head in art school that yellow is the “most advancing color” – it will draw the eye first. Yellow can symbolize joy, happiness, wealth, hope, weakness, greed and friendship. Yellow and Black symbolize danger or caution. White is purity and truth. Violet is royalty... and loneliness. Green is fresh and fruitful... envy and guilt. "True blue" is fidelity. In fact, every color has symbolism that can be used to affect your market (color can also be used to implement principles of design, but it is subordinate to shape).
    Blue, Green and Blue-Green are considered to be “Cold” colors. They denote coldness, cleanliness and freshness -- explaining why these colors are so popular in laundry detergent package design. Warm colors are based on red but “softened” and suffused with orange and yellows. Cool colors are based on blue and suffused with reds and yellows. Warm colors cheer and stimulate while cool colors calm and relax.
    Combinations of warm grays and cool grays are often used for shadows in renderings; usually resulting in more a realistic look when compared to using black. Artists also use a color’s complement to create shadows (sunlit objects in nature will have shadows with a hint of the object color's complement). When you stare at a color and then look at a white sheet of paper you will see a "ghost" of the color's complement.
    While any color can be combined (as in nature) if you choose the correct value and intensity, aesthetically pleasing color combinations have been found to lie with colors on opposite ends of the color wheel (complements), equidistant from each other (triads), those that lie on either side of the color (blended) or on either side of the complementary color (split complementary).  The closer colors are on the color wheel, the more harmonious they are. Colors on opposite sides complement each other. Use of color in design should be mostly harmonious or mostly complementary; mostly cool or mostly warm. There are numerous color schemes -- achromatic, monochromatic, analogous, complementary, triadic, rectangular, pentagonal, etc. Achromatic schemes consist of blacks, whites and neutral grays. Monochromatic schemes are based on one color and its various tints and shades. Analogous schemes are three colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. The Primary color scheme is made up of the three primary colors… strong and energetic, it is often used in designs targeting children. Secondary color schemes are also strong and energetic but more sophisticated.
    Here are a couple of links that help to make the task of color specification easier, if not a "no brainer." Check out Color Blender and Kuler. They are awesome resources for specifying color. With tools like these, (and my blog) there is simply no reason for not having beautifully spec'd color schemes in your designs. Of course if you are a woman you won't need them.


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About Adman

After developing his artistic abilities from an early age, Robert Davis (Adman) started his advertising career as a graphic artist for a commercial printing company while in 10th grade. He later acquired degrees in Commercial Art and (later) Business Administration (Marketing with focus on computer science) while working in various advertising agency capacities. Robert started his own agency in 1989. He added an in-house Pro Tools® recording studio in 1999 and an Avid Xpress® DV video editing suite in 2002. He now also has two Avid Media Composer suites and an Xpress Studio HD suite in a fully equipped studio which also features SoftImage|XSI and Pro Tools. He believes that his company, Davis Advertising, Inc., represents a new model for the 21st century advertising agency…”a small, agile and responsive agency wit1h comprehensive, in-house capabilities.” He says, “Avid® software provides the creative freedom and flexibility I covet.” His focus is on developing effective creative ideas via his own strategic planning process. He loves being surrounded by cameras, lights, props and other creative professionals who share his vision. He also, of course, loves working with Avid® software to bring his ideas to life. Currently residing in metro-Atlanta, Robert is an accomplished writer, producer and creative director. His advertising agency has served Fortune 500 accounts and has received several international awards. His work has been exhibited at the prestigious Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. When not riding his vintage Italian racing bike, or working out with free weights, Robert can often be found in the late evening singing or playing drums, guitars and keyboards in the studio.

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